CIA World Fact Book, 2004/Israel

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Introduction Israel
Background: Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. The territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Israel and Palestinian officials signed on 13 September 1993 a Declaration of Principles (also known as the "Oslo accords") guiding an interim period of Palestinian self-rule. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. In addition, on 25 May 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives and Syria to achieve a permanent settlement. On 24 June 2002, US President BUSH laid out a "road map" for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which envisions a two-state solution. However, progress toward a permanent status agreement has been undermined by Palestinian-Israeli violence ongoing since September 2000. The conflict may have reached a turning point with the election in January 2005 of Mahmud ABBAS as the new Palestinian leader following the November 2004 death of Yasir ARAFAT.
 
Geography Israel
Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
Geographic coordinates: 31 30 N, 34 45 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 20,770 sq km
water: 440 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
Coastline: 273 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas
Terrain: Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Har Meron 1,208 m
Natural resources: timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand
Land use: arable land: 16.39%
permanent crops: 4.17%
other: 79.44% (2001)
Irrigated land: 1,990 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes
Environment - current issues: limited arable land and natural fresh water resources pose serious constraints; desertification; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater pollution from industrial and domestic waste, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note: there are 242 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, 25 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (February 2002 est.); Sea of Galilee is an important freshwater source
 
People Israel
Population: 6,199,008
note: includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, more than 5,000 in the Gaza Strip, and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.7% (male 847,591; female 808,399)
15-64 years: 63.4% (male 1,976,539; female 1,954,782)
65 years and over: 9.9% (male 262,781; female 348,916) (2004 est.)
Median age: total: 29.2 years
male: 28.3 years
female: 30 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.29% (2004 est.)
Birth rate: 18.45 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 6.19 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.68 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 7.21 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 7.96 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.17 years
male: 77.08 years
female: 81.37 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.47 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 2,400 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 100 (2001 est.)
Nationality: noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli
Ethnic groups: Jewish 80.1% (Europe/America-born 32.1%, Israel-born 20.8%, Africa-born 14.6%, Asia-born 12.6%), non-Jewish 19.9% (mostly Arab) (1996 est.)
Religions: Jewish 80.1%, Muslim 14.6% (mostly Sunni Muslim), Christian 2.1%, other 3.2% (1996 est.)
Languages: Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.4%
male: 97.3%
female: 93.6% (2003 est.)
 
Government Israel
Country name: conventional long form: State of Israel
conventional short form: Israel
local short form: Yisra'el
local long form: Medinat Yisra'el
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Jerusalem; note - Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like nearly all other countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv
Administrative divisions: 6 districts (mehozot, singular - mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv
Independence: 14 May 1948 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)
National holiday: Independence Day, 14 May (1948); note - Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948, but the Jewish calendar is lunar and the holiday may occur in April or May
Constitution: no formal constitution; some of the functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament (Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law
Legal system: mixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and, in personal matters, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim legal systems; in December 1985, Israel informed the UN Secretariat that it would no longer accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Moshe KATZAV (since 31 July 2000)
elections: president is largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term; election last held 31 July 2000 (next to be held mid-2007); following legislative elections, the president assigns a Knesset member - traditionally the leader of the largest party - the task of forming a governing coalition; election last held 28 January 2003 (next schedulde to be held fall of 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Ariel SHARON (since 7 March 2001)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
election results: Moshe KATZAV elected president by the 120-member Knesset with a total of 60 votes, other candidate, Shimon PERES, received 57 votes (there were three abstentions); Ariel SHARON continues as prime minister after Likud Party victory in January 2003 Knesset elections; Likud won 38 seats and then formed coalition government with Shinui, the National Religious Party, and the National Union
Legislative branch: unicameral Knesset or parliament (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 28 January 2003 (next scheduled to be held fall of 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - Likud Party 29.4%, Labor 14.5%, Shinui 12.3%, Shas 8.2%, National Union 5.5%, Meretz 5.2%, United Torah Judaism 4.3%, National Religious Party 4.2%, Democratic Front for Peace and Equality 3.0%, One Nation 2.8%, National Democratic Assembly 2.3%, Yisra'el Ba'Aliya (YBA) 2.2%, United Arab List 2.1%, Green Leaf Party 1.2%, Herut 1.2%, other 1.6%; seats by party - Likud 38, Labor 19, Shinui 15, Shas 11, National Union 7, Meretz 6, National Religious Party 6, United Torah Judaism 5, Democratic Front for Peace and Equality 3, One Nation 3, National Democratic Assembly 3, YBA 2, United Arab List 2
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (justices appointed for life by the president)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) [Muhammad BARAKA]; Green Leaf Party (no longer active) [Boaz WACHTEL and Shlomi SANDAK]; Herut (no longer active) [Michael KLEINER]; Labor Party [Shimon PERES]; Likud Party [Ariel SHARON]; Meretz (merged with YAHAD) [Zahava GALON]; National Democratic Assembly (Balad) [Azmi BISHARA]; National Religious Party [Ephraim "Efie" EITAM]; National Union (Haichud Haleumi) [Avigdor LIBERMAN] (includes Tekuma Moledet and Yisra'el Beiteinu); One Nation [David TAL]; Shas [Eliyahu YISHAI]; Shinui [Yosef "Tommy" LAPID]; United Arab List [Abd al-Malik DAHAMSHAH]; United Torah Judaism [Yaakov LITZMAN]; YAHAD [Yossi BEILIN]; Yisra'el Ba'Aliya or YBA (merged with Likud) [Natan SHARANSKY]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Israeli nationalists advocating Jewish settlement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Peace Now supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Yesha (settler) Council promotes settler interests and opposes territorial compromise; B'Tselem monitors human rights abuses
International organization participation: BIS, BSEC (observer), CE (observer), CERN (observer), EBRD, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MIGA, OAS (observer), OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel AYALON
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5560
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5578
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel C. KURTZER
embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903
mailing address: PSC 98, Box 29, APO AE 09830
telephone: [972] (3) 519-7369/7453/7454/7457/7458/7551/7575
FAX: [972] (3) 516-4390
consulate(s) general: Jerusalem; note - an independent US mission, established in 1928, whose members are not accredited to a foreign government
Flag description: white with a blue hexagram (six-pointed linear star) known as the Magen David (Shield of David) centered between two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and bottom edges of the flag
 
Economy Israel
Economy - overview: Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial government participation. It depends on imports of crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years. Israel imports substantial quantities of grain but is largely self-sufficient in other agricultural products. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are the leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable current account deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Roughly half of the government's external debt is owed to the US, which is its major source of economic and military aid. The bitter Israeli-Palestinian conflict; difficulties in the high-technology, construction, and tourist sectors; and fiscal austerity in the face of growing inflation led to small declines in GDP in 2001 and 2002. The economy grew at 1% in 2003, with improvements in tourism and foreign direct investment. In 2004, rising business and consumer confidence - as well as higher demand for Israeli exports - boosted GDP by 2.7%.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $120.9 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1.3% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $19,800 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.8%
industry: 37.7%
services: 59.5% (2003 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 17.2% of GDP (2003)
Population below poverty line: 18% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 28.3% (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 35.5 (2001)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.7% (2003 est.)
Labor force: 2.61 million (2003 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture, forestry, and fishing 2.6%, manufacturing 20.2%, construction 7.5%, commerce 12.8%, transport, storage, and communications 6.2%, finance and business 13.1%, personal and other services 6.4%, public services 31.2% (1996)
Unemployment rate: 10.7% (2003 est.)
Budget: revenues: $44.98 billion
expenditures: $51.07 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2003)
Public debt: 108.6% of GDP (2003)
Agriculture - products: citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products
Industries: high-technology projects (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, diamond cutting
Industrial production growth rate: -0.6% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production: 42.24 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 37.82 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports: 1.457 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production: 80 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption: 260,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports: NA (2001)
Oil - imports: NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves: 1.92 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production: 10 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 10 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 20.81 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance: $-174 million (2003)
Exports: $29.32 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities: machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
Exports - partners: US 38.4%, Belgium 7.4%, Hong Kong 4.8% (2003)
Imports: $32.27 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities: raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods
Imports - partners: US 15.6%, Belgium 9.3%, Germany 8%, UK 6.7%, Switzerland 6.1%, Italy 4.1% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold: $26.32 billion (2003)
Debt - external: $70.97 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $662 million from US (2003 est.)
Currency: new Israeli shekel (ILS); note - NIS is the currency abbreviation; ILS is the International Organization for Standarization (ISO) code for the NIS
Currency code: ILS
Exchange rates: new Israeli shekels per US dollar - 4.5541 (2003), 4.7378 (2002), 4.2057 (2001), 4.0773 (2000), 4.1397 (1999)
Fiscal year: calendar year
 
Communications Israel
Telephones - main lines in use: 3.006 million (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 6.334 million (2002)
Telephone system: general assessment: most highly developed system in the Middle East although not the largest
domestic: good system of coaxial cable and microwave radio relay; all systems are digital
international: country code - 972; 3 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 23, FM 15, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 3.07 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 17 (plus 36 low-power repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 1.69 million (1997)
Internet country code: .il
Internet hosts: 437,516 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 21 (2000)
Internet users: 2 million (2002)
 
Transportation Israel
Railways: total: 640 km
standard gauge: 640 km 1.435-m gauge (2003)
Highways: total: 16,281 km
paved: 16,281 km (including 56 km of expressways)
unpaved: NA (2000)
Pipelines: gas 140 km; oil 1,509 km (2004)
Ports and harbors: Ashdod, Ashqelon, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa, Tel Aviv-Yafo
Merchant marine: total: 18 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 752,873 GRT/881,711 DWT
by type: container 18
registered in other countries: 40 (2004 est.)
Airports: 51 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 28
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 4 (2004 est.)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 23
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 20 (2004 est.)
Heliports: 3 (2003 est.)
 
Military Israel
Military branches: Israel Defense Forces (IDF): Ground Corps (including Pioneer Fighting Youth (Nahal)), Navy, Air Force(including Air Defense Forces); note - historically there have been no separate Israeli military services
Military manpower - military age and obligation: 17 years of age for compulsory (Jews, Druzes) and voluntary (Christians, Muslims, Circassians) military service; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript service obligation - 36 months for men, 21 months for women (2004)
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 1,581,883
females age 15-49: 1,532,234 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 1,294,742
females age 15-49: 1,250,969 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 51,054
females: 53,515 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $9.11 billion (FY03)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 8.7% (FY02)
This page was last updated on 1 January 2003



This is a snapshot of the CIA World Fact Book as it existed on 26 March 2005